Amit Paranjape’s Blog

Pune needs more traffic cops!

Posted in Cars, Current Affairs, Pune by Amit Paranjape on May 18, 2015

Pune traffic mess worsens every day. Road infrastructure is woefully inadequate for 3+ million vehicles. But what exacerbates this further is the massive traffic indiscipline. And this traffic indiscipline/anarchy is growing everyday.

One key reason for indiscipline is the lack of enforcement. There is no fear in the minds of signal/one-way violators that they will get caught. Visitors to Pune from other metros in India, routinely describe the traffic lawlessness on the streets here as much worse than their home towns.

Many will be surprised to know – Pune has more vehicles than Mumbai! (Most of these being two-wheelers, which actually worsen the traffic indiscipline issues…).

The traffic in Mumbai is a lot more homogeneous (4/6 wheelers), while that in Pune is a lot more heterogeneous & chaotic (2/3/4/6 wheelers). 80+% of Pune’s vehicles are 2-wheelers, and due to their small size and flexible maneuverability, they are often the biggest offenders when it comes to traffic violations. Narrow roads in Pune also add to the problems.

Like in all other infrastructure and development areas, Pune has woefully inadequate traffic police strength for the 3+ million vehicles (AND growing at 1,000+/day!). Note, Mumbai has 3x (or more) traffic police personnel as that of Pune. (I am researching exact numbers… also trying to find benchmarks with other cities like Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai…Any pointers would be appreciated!).

Instead of constantly blaming Pune traffic (I do too…) we should also lobby the authorities for additional enforcement capacity. The Pune Police have made these demands about additional strength at multiple points of time.  The citizens of Pune need to lobby their elected representatives at all levels regarding this demand.
And yes, structural changes are needed in penalties (increasing fine amounts) and driver licensing tests…but those are medium and long term measures. Long term measures should obviously also focus on better public transit (and reduction in private vehicles…). But, short term for Pune, additional traffic police manpower is absolutely essential. Also, immediate deployment of camera based enforcement is critical. Wherever technology can help in better enforcement, it has to be actively used. Enforcement needs to done not only at signals but at random spots along the roads. Traffic violators should worry about getting ‘caught’ anywhere, and at anytime. Discipline culture will take a long time to build… it starts with fear of law: If you break a traffic law…you will get CAUGHT and FINED!

Germany pays twice, and builds twice as many cars as U.S. – An interesting tale of two systems

Posted in Cars, Current Affairs by Amit Paranjape on December 23, 2011

I have always wondered about the divergence in the direction and fate of the U.S. and German car industry over the past few decades, and especially in the past decade.  The U.S. industry is still in a big crisis, though showing some signs of slowly coming out – while the German industry seems to be doing reasonably well – inspite of the global slowdown. What factors contribute to this difference? It is better labor productivity, better products, innovation, or something else. I came across a great article that tries to explain this quite well: http://www.remappingdebate.org/article/tale-two-systems

KPIT Cummins/Bharat Forge announce a JV for hybrid vehicles technology

Posted in Cars, Science & Technology by Amit Paranjape on June 9, 2010

Ever since Toyota introduced the Prius in the 1990s, hybrid vehicles have become an exciting new development area in the Auto Industry. With ever increasing fuel prices and environment concerns, hybrid technology will increasingly play an important role in the automobile of the 21st century.

Hybrid vehicles use a combination of power from an internal combustion engine and an electric motor. The electric motor is powered by a battery, which is typically charged during braking and decceleration. The battery can also be directly charged from an external electric source (these vehicles are known as ‘plug-in hybrids’). Hybrid vehicles typically deliver significant double digit savings in fuel economy and emissions.

Last week Pune based KPIT Cummins and Bharat Forge announced a joint venture for the design and development of a plug-in hybrid solution. PuneTech interviewed KPIT Cummins SVP, Anup Sable, to learn more details about this. Here is a link to that interview: Interview with Anup Sable: KPIT Cummins/Bharat Forge develop hybrid car technology in Pune

Skoda Laura – A Great Driving Experience

Posted in Cars by Amit Paranjape on June 4, 2010

  

Skoda Laura (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

Having owned a car from the Volkswagen Group for over 10 years now, I must admit that I am a big fan of their vehicles. They are fun to drive!  

 

In this brief post, I will share my experiences with the Skoda Laura. Will add more experiences in future posts. (Note – The current 2nd generation Skoda Octavia in Europe, is marketed as the Skoda Laura in India. The Skoda Octavia that is sold in India is the first generation Octavia…Branding consistency/simplicity is not VW’s strong point, I guess!)  

 
 

The Skoda Laura got new upgraded engines in 2009 – 1.8 TSI Petrol and the 2.0 Diesel. My experience primarily deals with the Petrol Variant.  Over the past year, I have driven this car on many long highway trips, as well as on the crowded Pune roads.  

 

The Laura 1.8 TSI is a terrific vehicle. It is a driver’s car that provides great comfort for the passengers as well. The Turbo-Charged engine provides amazing power and torque. It generates 160 HP and can do 0 – 100 kmph in under 8 seconds. (The same engine is also available in the heavier Passat, Superb and A4 models, and delivers marginally lower acceleration for them, given their increased weight.) The 6 speed manual gearbox  helps in smoother rides at high speeds. Overall the road handling, braking performance of this car are excellent.  

 

 The 1.8 TSI (Turbo Stratified Injection) engine contains some interesting technology. In simple terms, this engine uses a combination of turbocharging and supercharging. (For more details, click here:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turbocharger http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercharger  ) This technology reduces the traditional ‘turbo lag’. You can notice the pick up in acceleration at fairly low RPMs (under 1500 RPM), compared to conventional turbo-engines. And the fuel economy remains very good. I won’t bore you with more technical details, but if interested do watch this great video that explains the working of ‘TSI’  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvysuD5MFow and this link.  

 
 

I think it is safe to say that the Skoda Laura 1.8 TSI is the fastest car (best acceleration) available in the Indian market today, in the under 25 Lakhs category (or even under 30 Lakh category). In my view it is the best car in India in the 15 Lakh Sedan Range.  

 Its way ahead of its peers like the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic – especially when it comes to sheer driving pleasure. From a passenger perspective, the ride is very comfortable and quiet, and the rear AC air-vents are a nice feature – not normally seen in this category.  

 My only issue with this model is that it doesn’t sport some of the add-on features, available in its 2.0 Diesel sibling — features like Auto Transmission, 16 inch wheels (the Petrol Variant has 15 inch wheels), and 6 airbags (the Petrol Variant has 2). Though with the addition of these features, the Diesel variant’s pricing is significantly higher (in the 18 Lakh range).   

 [Hope to write my reviews about the new Volkswagen Polo and the recently announced small sedan – Volkswagen Vento in the coming weeks..stay tuned.]   

   

A BMW On Indian Roads – 1970s Bollywood Story

Posted in Cars, Current Affairs by Amit Paranjape on March 25, 2010

This sounds like a Bollywood story of the 1970s …. two twins get separated at birth. One gets to enjoy the luxuries of the modern world, a great loving and caring family and comfort…gets to have all the fun and entertainment he desires. Has a great bunch of siblings and friends.

And then there’s the poor brother! He is subjected to immense hardships…Uncaring step-parents (who for some reason seem to always wear white uniforms) ….A society that tries very hard (successfully I may add) in making sure that he doesn’t come anywhere close to realizing his full potential. He is perennially subjected to abuse and is often shackled by the environment he lives in. Rarely does he catch a glimpse of freedom (if at all)…and that too is extremely short lived.

Ok – enough of Bollywood…and why am I boring myself with it 🙂 .   But wait, I am not really talking about Bollywood, am I? The separated twins are in fact two impressive V8 BMWs that were produced together at the same assembly plant near Munich in Southern Germany. One had a small trip to make to Dusseldorf, and got to rule the Autobahns! While the other got ‘shipped’ to the Nhava Sheva Port in Western India, was subjected to the ‘misery’ on Indian Roads :-).

[Note you are welcome to create Tollywood and Mollywood equivalents of this story … just replace the BMWs with Mercedes and Audis.  ]

Isn’t it a sheer joy to see these beautiful, elegant and powerful performance machines, ‘steadily’ ambling on Indian Roads?  I am sure their designers in Germany would be proud to see their magnificent creations cruising at a ‘fast’ 20 kmph (what’s that – just a difference of a ‘0’ from their intended speeds)…I guess , as much pride as a breeder of thorough-bred horses would get from seeing a racetrack winner, carrying a groom in a wedding procession 🙂

I mean, you do need those 300 (or even 400) BHP engines that can do 0-100 kmph in less than 6 sec, to drive in Pune traffic…yes, definitely! And all those ‘Must-Have’ features like 4 Wheel Drive, Anti-Slip/Traction/Stability Controls, 8 Airbags, Radar Cruise Control, Lane Departure Warning Systems, Night Vision, etc…etc. are a must for Mumbai! And what better way to navigate on Indian Roads than use the latest built-in sophisticated voice-guided Satellite GPS Navigation System? The system for sure is more ‘intelligent’ and ‘effective’ than the neighborhood ‘Panwala’ when it comes to finding local street directions .

On a few small occasions these mechanical thorough-breeds get to gallop a bit…that is if they manage to escape Pune Traffic…and head to the Pune-Mumbai Expressway. The Expressway itself is a poor cousin of the German Autobahn (not with respect to the road quality itself, but the way some of the smaller brethren behave on these roads – endangering everyone around them!). Still, touching 100 kmph or at times even 150 kmph must be satisfying for sure. But just when the fun starts, these cars are welcomed by ‘Navi Mumbai’…and then by…Chembur and Sion…what more can I say!

Like in Bollywood, there are no happy endings to this story 😦

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